ProPropublica Builds Transparency Layer into its Articles
ProPublica, the nonprofit, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative startup has introduced a tool to let readers explore source material used in their reporting.
In the image above, I’ve selected a highlighted phrase from an article by Marshall Allen about a woman’s fight for information about her husband’s death at a Texas hospital. Once selected, a windoid appears containing source material pulled from DocumentCloud.
ProPublica calls this “Explore Sources”.
In the course of reporting the piece, Marshall made over 500 annotations in 64 documents he uploaded to DocumentCloud, many of which were sources of facts in his story. We thought readers would find these annotations useful, and may even use them to explore the documents on their own. However, we didn’t want to show them in a separate graphic or interactive feature, but rather sprinkled throughout the story itself.
So we made a special feature we’re calling Explore Sources. To try it, click the “ON” button next to “Explore Sources” at the beginning of the article. Words and phrases throughout the piece will turn yellow. Click these yellow highlights to see the portion of the source document from which Marshall got that fact. Once the annotation is visible, click the document image inside of the popup to go to the full document in DocumentCloud, or anywhere else to dismiss it.
Read on to learn how ProPublica then created a little app that the reporter can use to connect to specific DocumentCloud snippets when authoring into the organization’s CMS.